UIC Review of Intellectual Property Law


Madylan Yarc


Mural mural on the wall, what’s the fairest use of them all? Many corporations have taken advantage of public art to promote their own brand. Corporations commission graffiti advertising campaigns because they create a spectacle that gains traction on social media. The battle rages on between the independent artists who wish to protect the exclusive rights over their art, against the corporations who argue that the public art is fair game and digital advertising is fair use of art. The Eastern Market district of Detroit is home to the Murals in the Market Festival. In January 2018, Mercedes Benz obtained a permit from the City of Detroit to photograph its G 500 SUV in specific downtown areas. On January 26, 2018, Mercedes posted six of these photographs on its Instagram account. When Defendant-artists threatened to file suit, Mercedes removed the photos from Instagram as a courtesy. In March 2019, Mercedes filed three declaratory judgment actions against the artists for non-infringement. This Comment will analyze the claims for relief put forth in Mercedes’ complaint and evaluate Defendant-artists’ arguments. Ultimately, this Comment will propose how the court should rule in the pending litigation of MBUSA LLC v. Lewis.